Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Most Famous Magician of All Time

Ask someone who the 'most famous magician' is or was, and you're likely to hear: Houdini, David Copperfield, David Blaine, and maybe even Merlin, if the person is trying to be clever. Certainly all of these individuals are famous and certainly all rank high. But the most famous magician is one you've likely all heard of and yet never heard of. What? Read on.

His name was William Vincent. Surely, you know who I'm talking about now. No? Well, he did not go by his real name. Like many magicians, (myself included), he went by a stage name. And his stage name became so iconic, that even small children today know it. He was known as Hocus Pocus. That's right, the phrase that so many people think of as 'magic words', was actually a magician.

During the reign of King James of England (1603-1625), Vincent was known as "The King's Most Excellent Hocus Pocus." He was a juggler, an artist in legerdermaine. His tricks included the Cups and Balls and the cut and restored 'tape' trick, among others. Vincent began his career in 1619 after receiving a licence 'to exercise the art of Legerdemaine in any Townes within the Relme of England and Ireland.'

A book titled, Hocus Pocus Jr. was published in 1634. A short book of 50+ pages, it contains a wealth of knowledge on how to present the Cups and balls and many other wonderful tricks popular during the 17th Century.

The new book, The Secret History of Magic by Peter Lamont and Jim Steinmeyer says that Vincent is the author of the book, Hocus Pocus Jr.. Other sources list the author as anonymous, and still other sources say 'it could possibly have been William Vincent'. 

Many editions of Hocus Pocus Jr. were printed after the original, and apparently each new edition contained new material. Houdini's copy resides in the Library of Congress and is available to view or download as a .pdf. Here is the link.

William Vincent died a few years after the publication of Hocus Pocus Jr.. according to the website www.hocuspocusjr.com (the actual site is long gone, but you can see the original in the Internet Archive site)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Magic Potion #9 Houdini Artwork

I stumbled upon this yesterday. An unusual piece of art using HOUDINI. It reminded me of the Tony Curtis movie, when they referred to the Water Torture Cell as 'The Man In The Bottle'. Here, Houdini IS the MAN in the bottle!

If you're interested in this piece, you can pick it up in various sizes and in various mediums like canvas, wood print, and more.  http://studio-v.wingsdomain.com/featured/magic-potion-number-9-patent-pending-20140922-wingsdomain-art-and-photography.html

Friday, July 20, 2018

Houdini Commemorative T-Shirt

Here is something you don't see every day. A Commemorative Houdini T-shirt. This is produced by the Camel City Goods Company, and it commemorates the Nov 24th, 1924 performance by Houdini at the Winston Salem Reynolds Auditorium. I'll be honest, I didn't go back and fact check this to see if Houdini did indeed perform there on that date*. I just thought it was a very cool t-shirt.

You can get one here: https://www.camelcitygoods.com/products/houdini-escape-lieu

I've done a bit more research into this, and apparently this is the second t-shirt. The original was a tan shirt with reddish lettering. There was also a commemorative button issued by the same company.

*I've gone back to see if I could find any proof of Houdini performing in Winston-Salem on Nov 24th 1924, and sure enough, an article in The Frederick News, Nov 25th, 1924 mentions his appearance at The Reynolds Memorial Hall in Winston Salem on the 24th.